Sunday, 9 April 2017

Murder Ballad Monday The Little Maple Tree (Hungarian)

 Hello and welcome to part 20 of Murder Ballad Monday. This is the first version where I have found a written record, but have not managed to find a recorded version.
                                Image result for hungarian classical ballads
I found this version in Hungarian Classical Ballads: And Their Folklore By Ninon A. M. Leader. It is a fragmentary version of the “singing bones” type ballad (Child ballad 10) entitled The Little Maple Tree. This particular fragment is from Transylvania.

I was interested in the fact the sisters were called “orphans” in the song, but a father appears later in the song. I always thought the term orphan was one who had lost both parents, but perhaps in some countries it only applies to someone who has lost their mother.
                                      Image result for little maple tree

The lyrics are as follows:
Three orphans set out
With three little pots
To the forest
To gather strawberries,
To gather strawberries.

Their dear mother
Had left them many costly pearls
Which they were dividing,
Going on their way,
Going on their way.

The three orphans agreed to this
That she, who would be the first to fill,
To fill her little pot,
Would get the pearls.
Little Bencoska filled hers first
Whereupon the two elder sisters killed her.
They put her bones into the hollow of a tree
And hastily went home.

Their father asks them
Where his dear little daughter has been left,
His little daughter,
His little Bencoska.
Three of them went out, and two of them returned.
Where has my little daughter been left?
Alas my God, where shall I go?
Where shall I go, what shall I do?
Where shall I look for her, where shall I go?

He travelled to the forest
to search for the little orphan.
Behold there is a little pipe there!
Behold there is a little pipe there!

He examines it, he even takes it out.
He is thinking what to do.
How can he play it in his sorrow?
Still, he starts to play it.
It has a peasant air.

“Play the tune, play the tune my royal father,
My dear nurse who brought me up.
My sisters have killed me.
They have put me in the hollow of a tree.

They went home and played the tune
And played the tune upon the pipe.
“Play the tune, play the tune my sister dear,
My murderer dear who has killed me!

I was once a princess too,
A princess, the little princess Pendzsoka! (sic)
A princess, the little princess Pendzsoka!
Now I am a little pipe.

My sisters have killed me.
They have put me into the hollow of a tree.
They have put me into the hollow of a tree.

Other Hungarian versions of this ballad contain the following variations:
      1.  The mother is not dead, but instead offers a beautiful dress to the one who fills her strawberry basket first.
      2. The sisters cut her head off and throw her body down a well
      3. The sisters cover her body with brushwood  and a maple tree springs up from the brushwood and a shepherd fashions a pipe from it
     4. The sisters confess their deed and are tortured as a punishment
     5. The sisters are thrown off a high cliff as punishment
     6. The father (sometimes called the King) cuts open the pipe and his youngest daughter emerges alive and well.

Here's how it breaks down compared to other versions:
Name of ballad: The Little Maple Tree
Performed by:  n/a
Refrain: none
Number of sisters: three
Where did they live: doesn’t say
Appearance described asdoesn’t say
 Sweetheart:  none mentioned
Excuse to go to the water: not to the water, but to the woods to pick strawberries
Body of water: n/a
Does it contain the line “Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam”: no
Miller and child: no
Mistaken for: n/a
Described in death: n/a
Who finds her on the bank: her father finds her in the hollow tree
Instrument she becomes: pipe
Body parts used: doesn’t say
Would her song “melt a heart of stone”: no
Do the strings sing individually: no
What does the instrument sing: it revealed the name of the murderer
Is the sister punished: doesn’t say

So, that’s it for version twenty of The Twa Sisters. Stay tuned next Monday for version twenty-one.

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